Largest US Navy Exercise in a Generation

26 August 2021

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US Airmen from the 505th Combat Training Squadron and the 505th Communications Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida, supported Navy Large Scale Exercise 21 (NLSE) – the biggest US Navy exercise in a generation, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday.

A biannual event, NLSE provides a training and experimentation environment, which leverages the integrated fighting power of multiple naval forces to share sensors, weapons and platforms across all domains in a globally contested environment. NLSE 20 was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so those training objectives were rolled into NLSE 21, resulting in a massive exercise, including 25,000 US Sailors and Marines across 17 time zones.

NLSE 21 is both a live and virtual training exercise. While three dozen naval units participate live in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, more than 50 service members joined the exercise remotely, including personnel from all three Marine Corps Expeditionary Forces and Sailors from the Navy’s Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Fleets.

During NLSE 21, the 505th CTS replicated the US European Command Air Operations Center (AOC), while hosting 18 U.S. Sailors from Carrier Strike Group 4, and the Maritime Operations Center Exercise Support Team who replicated the US Northern Command AOC.

In order to meet the unique challenges of supporting multiple AOCs, the 505th CS configured and maintained two Theater Battle Management Core Systems, two Global Command and Control Systems, and collaborative systems (voice, chat, email, etc.) Once configured, these systems, coupled with network connections, support USEUCOM and USNORTHCOM AOC Replication Cells and their respective Exercise Control Group endeavors. The support provided by the 505th CS allowed AOC RC controllers to push real time updates for air tasking orders and airspace control orders to theater representatives and ensured a valid common operating picture was in play. Combined, this joint team replicated the full spectrum of airpower to tens of thousands of US Sailors and Marines, testing how the services will fight across vast distances as they prepare for near-peer conflict.

In supporting the exercise, the 505th CTS helped Sailors and Marines apply concepts such as Distributed Maritime Operations and Joint All-Domain Command and Control to ensure a ready and superior force in a high-end fight.

“Given the realities of the current global situation and the return of great power competition, the work of both the 505th CTS and 505th CS has never been more important in advancing our operational command and control capabilities across the joint force,” said Col. Aaron Gibney, 505th Combat Training Group commander, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.


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